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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Bush apologises: Your reaction
A US soldier guards cells inside Abu Ghraib prison
President George W Bush told Jordan's King Abdullah that he is "sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners".

The apology followed the president's appearance on Arabic TV on Wednesday.

In this interview Mr Bush denounced the mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners by US soldiers and vowed that those responsible would be punished.

The president has been criticised for not apologising sooner. President Bush has stood by his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

What do you think of President Bush's comments and apology? Has he done enough to address Arab concerns over the treatment of prisoners in Iraq?


This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of the opinion we have received:

Would you, Mr. Bush, accept a similar apology from Saddam?
Megh, Melbourne
A sensible man ought not to see much of a difference between Saddam's regime and Bush's regime in Iraq. Would you, Mr. Bush, accept a similar apology from Saddam and let him rule Iraq once again?
Megh, Melbourne

George W. Bush's heart is pure, and if the world cannot see that, it is merely a sign of its blindness. From this basic existential fact, the essential goodness of this mission follows. All the rest is just quibbling over details.
François Furstenberg, Montreal, Canada

I don't understand why everybody is talking about only "few" bad apples? Those were the only foolish and arrogant ones to take the pictures and somehow put them in the wrong hands. If US wants the world community to give them a second chance, they should sort out all the bad apples among them up to the highest level and punish them severely. That's the only solution to this mess.
George, Toronto, Canada

Where have democratic values of human rights and respect of fellow humans espoused by democratic US gone to? It's a shame that democratic principles are being applied on a selective basis.
Roland, Obuasi, Ghana

I don't think Bush should've apologized. Has anyone apologized to our country for burning Americans while they're alive, dragging their bodies around and then hanging them? All's fair in love and war.
T. Miller, New Jersey

Not only does the US have to suffer the backlash, it also does not produce very good intelligence
Paul, England

Bush is not a great TV performer. He failed to make the key point that not only is the mistreatment of prisoners legally and morally wrong, it is also counter productive. Not only does the US have to suffer the backlash, it also does not produce very good intelligence. This would make the point that the mistreatment was the action of a few individuals and not a part of policy.
Paul, England

When I saw the photographs of the Iraqi prisoners I felt as if I was humiliated as a Muslim and I understood the extent of the American soldiers' moral degradation and abnormalities. I condemn it.
Ahmet Emin, Istanbul, Turkey

The abuses of Iraqi prisoners confirm the reasons behind the refusal of the US to have its citizens punished for war crimes. The image and credibility of the US is tarnished for ever. It is only brutal and uncivilised regimes that can abuse defenceless prisoners. I wonder what the UN is for, and how it can convince us of its worthiness in light of its failure to condemn the Americans.
Jacob Mwitwa, Stellenbosch, South Africa

It is very obvious to me that both the US and British governments will try to sweep this one under the carpet. If they are serious to prove to the world, they must fire people at the highest levels and make public apologies to the people of Iraq. Most importantly, recommendations from the Red Cross and Amnesty International must be respected and implemented. But it is doubtful if this will happen.
Rakesh Sharma, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

This incident just shows the attitude and mindset of your soldiers Mr Bush. For you and your army we all are lesser human beings. You want to charge Saddam for cruelty and violation of human rights. See what you're doing in Iraq? It is no wonder that you are not in favour of having the International Criminal Court around.
Umesh Kumar Sharma, Singapore

The Arab world will not forget
Alan, Sydney

President Bush is wasting his time. The Arab world will not forget his stand on issues relating to the Middle East and Iraq. Ten minutes of interviews will not remove the deep feeling of mistrust and hate caused by seeing daily images of death and destruction. The Arab world is humiliated and angry. I am afraid sorry will not be enough even if the president finds the courage to say himself.
Alan, Sydney, Australia

I do believe President Bush is constitutionally the chief of Staffs of the US Army. I thought this interview could provide him the opportunity to publicly apologise for his soldiers' behaviour, but it was a lost opportunity. Also, the whole Middle East wanted to hear more than the issue of the Iraqi prisoners. What a waste of opportunities!
Safari Mubagwa, Ö-vik, Sweden

Comparing Saddam with Bush is an error. Saddam never intended to occupy USA. On the other hand, in Iraq, US is the occupying power, and it holds the entire population like illegal combatants. What a hypocrisy!
Vernon Hart, Salem, USA

Bush's comments continue to show me that he views the American nation as morally above the Iraqi nation. All his empty talk of what democracy is, and how the Iraqi people need to learn it. He continues to say that at least his American-lead occupation isn't Saddam's rule. The difference is only a matter of degrees.
Marc Snelling, Seoul, South Korea

The US is so divided in every way
William Kent, New York

As an American I find these acts horrifying and an embarrassment to the United States. The Bush administration is responsible for covering this up and in a larger sense responsible for the mistake of starting this war in the first place. I would like the world community to understand that half of the US is strongly opposed to this administration and are working hard to remove him from office. After the unity we had after 9/11, all is gone and the US is so divided in every way. Understand that these actions represent a small fraction of us and a majority of Americans deplore this administration.
William Kent, New York

It's a shame what has happened but hardly surprising. This mimics the behaviour of military intelligence during the struggle in Vietnam. Those soldiers who committed the abuses will undoubtedly be punished but what about the people really responsible, the members of military intelligence who gave these men their orders? The US military has clearly learned little since this nation's defeat in Vietnam about how to subdue insurgents.
Jeremy Leatherman, Tempe, AZ, USA

This administration never had a plan when they barged into Iraq, they still don't have a plan, they just bumble on from one mess to the next and it gets worse and worse. Bush has a reputation for being disengaged, this is so clear whenever he speaks. He is Commander in Chief and is supposed to represent this country, so if he can't bring himself to apologise how else is the world supposed to view us?
L. Kent, Philadelphia

They should not be there in the first place
Khalid Akram, Wembley, London
If the US/UK troops were not in Iraq, they would not be getting killed themselves, nor would they be killing or torturing Iraqis. They should not be there in the first place. In fact why are they there? Does anyone know? The Iraqi people didn't invite them to 'liberate' them for sure.
Khalid Akram, Wembley, London

What's troublesome is that US government knew about the abuses late last year. Yet they turned a blind eye as if nothing happened and thought that it will go away. Only when pictures came out in public did the President got involved. What a sorry example of "Democracy", they can't even practices what they preach. Empty words, promises and apologies are meaningless.
Asif, Boston, USA

There is absolutely nothing this president can say to wash away the humiliation of first and foremost the Iraqis, but also any American who naively trusted in the Iraq war enterprise in the first place. Yet every American who protested against this war before it started knew precisely that things like this were going to take place.
Donna Wright, Syracuse, NY

Naturally this was not unexpected. After hiding people away in Guantanamo Bay and Gag ram as "unlawful combatants" and creating a "legal black hole" these pictures are a direct result of Government policy. My worry is that Kerry seems to have lost his voice
Conrad, Abuja, Nigeria

The very insistence on the use of the word "abuse" is hypocrisy enough. Had it happened anywhere else the western media would have liberally made use of the word "torture". Nauseating double-standards again!
Levent, Turkey

A perfect example of the similarity between the US military and al-Qaeda - neither has any regard for human life
Sherry, London, UK

The Bush administration are more than responsible for the whole mess in Iraq
Brian McHugh, Glasgow, Scotland
In the aftermath of 9/11, there are many American's who honestly believe in their superiority to other nationalities. The Bush administration are to blame for this flag waving propaganda and the soldiers who have carried out these 'sick' crimes are doing so in the belief that their government condones this. The soldiers who are responsible should be court marshalled, but the Bush administration are more than responsible for the whole mess in Iraq.
Brian McHugh, Glasgow, Scotland

With the disregard for international law shown by the 'Coalition' it's no wonder that those on the ground will follow suit. And after the blatant mistreatment of alleged Al-Qaeda prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is anyone that surprised.
Paul, Norwich

These events sicken me. Truly horrifying, however, is the thought of how many such abuses take place all over the world all the time, without us even knowing -or caring!
Mark, Geneva, Switzerland

You cannot justify torture on the grounds that Saddam was "worse" any more than I could justify murdering one person because there are serial killers!
Kester Scrope, La Verdière, France

Why not criminal prosecutions?
Andy, Oxford, UK
Reprimands for the soldiers involved? Why not criminal prosecutions?
Andy, Oxford, UK

Remember the photos of Saddam's dead sons displayed triumphantly to the world by the US government? Remember the pictures of Saddam stripped half naked and 'examined' for TV by the US government? The atrocities photographed and videotaped by the US soldiers are only the home movie version of what the pentagon has been doing all along.
Agnes, The Netherlands

No-one should feel more insulted than those troops who fought to free Iraq or the relatives of the fallen. They have all been disgraced by their non-combatant colleagues.
Dave, UK

If anyone has the authority to apologize to the Iraqi people on behalf of the American people it is the American President. Why he cannot bring himself to do so is confounding.
Fran Davies, Oak Ridge, TN, USA

Terrible things happen, to both sides
David, London, UK
It's war. Terrible things happen, to both sides. Did everyone expect them to throw fluffy toy bunnies at each other?!?
David, London, UK

Those pictures showing American troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners are truly disgusting and there is no excuse for them no matter who the prisoners were. Having said that, as an Iraqi, I find the media hype, especially the "Arab" media quite astonishing. Where were these "Arab" stations while Saddam was committing infinitely worse crimes against the Iraqi people? How come "Arab" pride was not hurt then? Why only now? Why are these "Arab" media still silent about the continued human rights abuses in their own Arab countries?
Lateef, Ireland/Iraq

To all those who are trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Arab reactions to the Abu Ghraib abuses, remember that the "coalition" went there to supposedly to prevent such atrocities from ever taking place again, not to perpetuate them.
Wassim T, Montreal, Canada

How they confront those problems is the key issue
Yves Orton, Frankfurt Germany

People should remember that any organization on the scale of the US army is going to have problems like these. How they confront those problems is the key issue. And frankly in my opinion Arab governments and the Arab public have nothing to be proud of in this area. I wish the soldiers of a the US military a speedy homecoming, and the people of Iraqi a speedy peace.
Yves Orton, Frankfurt Germany

Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld's failure to act immediately to denounce US abuse of Iraqi citizens and to punish those responsible, is a betrayal of the American people and the service men and women whose lives have been placed in even greater danger. Rumsfeld should be forced out. Now.
Robert Hall, Tucson Arizona USA

We should remember the USA is an example of democracy and apologising is the way of democracy. I believe Bush should apologise to all the people who believe in democracy because this was not just an insult to the Iraqi people but it was insult to all the people around the world who believe in Democracy.
Riead, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Whenever we unleash the will of man in war there is going to be abuse, but the vast majority of soldiers behave impeccably. It is not the duty of the President of the USA to apologize for the behaviour of a few scoundrels. We must reject violations of human rights, but we must also understand that this kind of situations occur all over the world and that there is little we can do to avoid them.
Carlos Cortiglia, London United Kingdom

The President most certainly should not have apologized. With all the furore from the Arab media over this, we seem to still be awaiting the apology from them over the murder of four civilian contractors and abuse of the bodies!
Paul G. Overend, American resident in UK

President Bush was right to express his disgust. He cannot be held responsible for the acts of a few individuals. The acts that took place are not representative of most Americans and it is unfortunate that they should all be condemned for the acts of a few. For those who say that Bush should resign, why did you not call for other heads to go when various acts of disgust occurred in various countries previously? As long as Bush did not knowingly encourage these acts, there is no need for him to resign. He cannot personally control the behaviour of each and every individual US citizen.
Ryan, London

Those few in our ranks who chose to disgrace the US military and their country are a disgrace to all
Sgt Grossman, FOB Normandy, Iraq
I'm a soldier in the US Army Infantry. I too think the personal degradation of a human being to be unacceptable; those few in our ranks who chose to disgrace the US military and their country are a disgrace to all. I can say this, in my encounters with detainees, they were treated humanely. One was even given a cigarette by a soldier. Please keep in mind these are detainees who have been caught planting IEDs and attacking convoys.
Sgt Grossman, FOB Normandy, Iraq

I keep hearing people say that we should be ashamed of our army and our troops. I hope people realise that, although these are horrible actions, they are the actions of a very small percentage of our troops. I am not for us being over there but I sincerely believe and have heard first hand from soldiers that many of them truly believe they are helping the citizens of Iraq and that they respect their opponents in this war as fellow humans.
JRJ, Chicago, IL

The buck has to stop at the top. It is no good making a few soldiers the scapegoats. At the very least the US administration has encouraged this kind of behaviour by the language used to describe any opposition to the occupation: "terrorists", "thugs", "killers". I do not believe for one minute this was not known at the top. The mandate after all was to save coalition lives at all costs and whatever means.
John, Canada

As commander in chief of the US military, the buck stops with George Bush, and he should have offered his resignation - along with Donald Rumsfeld. But not even an apology. Is he sorry, or just sorry he got caught out?
Dan, UK

As an Arab myself, I say that what we need is deeds not just empty words. And using a US funded network (Al Houra, considered by 95% of Arabs as the mouthpiece of the Pentagon) to address the Arab population is by itself an insult. Trying to silence and bypass Al-Jazeera, the only free station in the area says a lot about his deeds. I think that his silence on this issue would have been better.
Hakim H, Montreal, Canada

He can only try to make sure that it doesn't happen again
Chris, Sandwich, MA, USA
I think that this is the type of thing that Bush has handled well. Of course it is a terrible and disgusting thing that happened, but there is very little he can actually do about it. The individuals are being tried, what more can he do? Withdrawal is not an option, he can replace the head of prisons, but what good will that do? A president is not responsible for the acts of individuals, he can only try to make sure that it doesn't happen again. I say let the people who have done nothing wrong recently question and criticise the US and of course there are none. So before you raise your fists in anger, take a minute and actually think!
Chris, Sandwich, MA, USA

The entire sordid saga is an embarrassment. My country should feel humiliated by the actions of these guards right along with the Iraqis and Arabs. I certainly do! Mr Bush clearly does not understand that, and because he does not understand, will never be able to amends. It is hard to understand how Mr. Bush can talk about "illegal and unauthorised" actions when the whole invasion was just that.
Will Martin, Seattle, USA

Arabs leaders are hypocritical on this issue of the Iraqi prisoners' abuse by the United States military personnel. Worse atrocities were committed by the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during his entire rule, but nothing was said by the Arabs leaders who are crying fault at the moment. What a double standard!
Madut Majok, Halifax, Canada

I do believe that President Bush is genuinely offended by the treatment of the prisoners, as are the American people. I believe that the Americans mean well, even though the Iraq war should not have taken place. These situations, appalling as they are, say more about prisons in general than about Americans.
Martin, Hamburg, Germany

I find it fascinating that even in these most hideous circumstances, Bush can't bring himself to make an apology. Maybe if he could apologise for the genuine mistakes, Arabs would be more willing to accept the occupation.
James, UK

He hasn't done enough to address Arab concerns about Iraq!
Gina Salvi, Kealia, Hawaii, USA
No, of course he hasn't done enough to address Arab concerns about Iraq!! I, personally find myself turning more and more frequently to the BBC, CBC and Al Jazeera for answers to my questions about the Middle East. They're likely to be less biased in favour of the US and more honest about the situation!!
Gina Salvi, Kealia, Hawaii, USA

President Bush's lack of apology is abhorrent, as is his blanket statement that these were isolated incidents. The military has already ruled two deaths as criminal homicides and is investigating thirty others, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan as well. Until the president learns to be honest with his own people and the rest of the world, the Arab community, and the rest of us, for that matter, have a lot to be concerned about.
Sarah Billington, Columbia, Missouri, USA

I'm sick and tired of hearing Bush saying things to placate the masses about the "War", while the actions of his administration continue to demonstrate indifference to everything except the economic gains to be had from controlling Iraq's natural resources. At least there will be an election this year where we can get Bush out of office!
Adam Steed, Columbus, Ohio, USA

As much as I oppose the current occupation in Iraq and George Bush's policies, I find it amazing that there are protests outside the prisons in Iraq condemning the treatment of the prisoners. There is much worse that happens in prisons across the Arab world, and let's not forget how Saddam Hussain used to treat his prisoners.
George Slater, London

The US will investigate and punish those who committed these offences
John Murray, Dallas, TX, USA
Bush is honestly offended, as all Americans are, at the treatment of some of the prisoners in Iraq. Any Arab concerns over the recent photos should be tempered by the realisation of their own governments' recent histories of abuses on citizens and foreigners alike. The US will investigate and punish those who committed these offences. The Arab populace should demand the same of their own.
John Murray, Dallas, TX, USA

Actions speak louder than words. If the US acted in a fairer, more just and less hypocritical way in Iraq and the Middle East perhaps the president wouldn't need to go making such appearances?
N. Hawkins, London

George W may consider the pictures 'abhorrent' yet he failed to apologise for the troops' behaviour or make any mention of the cruel and inhuman treatment outside any form of international law of the prisoners still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. His hypocrisy will not go unnoticed within the Arab world.
John Bradley, City, London

I believe that the president made it very clear to the world that the behaviour depicted in the images is not condoned by the American government, its people nor the vast majority of the American armed forces. It is a sad event that will be abhorred by the Arab world and beyond, and the damage has already been done. But for his sake, I feel that President Bush has taken the prudent steps to denounce the mistreatment depicted in the images.
Matthew Kellogg, Dallas, Texas, USA

Soldiers can only kill strangers if they are taught that their enemies are worthless. Whilst I am certainly not saying they should be excused, this exposes the reality of war that governments and the media try to hide from us
Lee, Ormskirk, Lancs

I believe that this has lost us any chance of winning the war on terrorism. Going on television without accepting any responsibility is pathetic. Some heads should roll including Rumsfeld for all the miscalculations. These people are putting British troops at risk. I think the only real solution is for Bush to say that he will not run for re-election just as Lyndon Johnson did. That would be the most honourable action. Clean the slate and move on with new leadership.
Roland, Watford, England

There is absolutely nothing the US president can say to wash away the humiliation caused by his troops. As an Arab I feel angry and I am sorry but the only way out for the US is withdrawal.
Zakaria, Paris, France




SEE ALSO:
Should Rumsfeld resign over Iraq abuse?
10 May 04  |  Have Your Say


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